Free Markets, Free People

Why won’t they fix it?

About a year and a half ago, I bought a Citizen Skyhawk A-T EcoDrive watch. It’s the really nice one, made of titanium, solar-powered, and calibrated to the Naval Observatory’s atomic clock every day. It pretty much has all the bells and whistles a watch can have.

At least, it used to. The outer bezel fell off less than a year after I purchased it. Now, when you pay for an $850 dollar watch that you sort of hope will be the last watch you’ll ever buy, you don’t expect bits to just…fall off. Then the inner bezel fell off.


“OK,” I thought. “I’ll take it to a watch shop to have it fixed.” But I can’t. No one is allowed to fix the Skyhawk A-T except the Citizen Service Center in Torrance, CA. “Well,” I thought again, “This is becoming…inconvenient.”

But I really wanted it fixed, so I submitted to the process, which first requires you to go to the Citizen web site and fill out a form to create a work order. Then I packed it all up, took it to the post office, and sent it off to Torrance, insured, via Certified Mail, in December.

Anxiously I awaited. As the dark, cold winter passed, I prepared to greet the warmth of spring with a freshly restored Chronometer. Then, in late March, I received a text message from UPS telling me my watch had been delivered.

Oh, frabjous day!

I raced home from work, ran into the house, and there was the package from Citizen. I opened it to find my watch…in exactly the same poor shape it was in when I sent it. There was an invoice as well, saying that I’d need to buy a new bezel for $60, but they were returning my watch untouched because I’d never responded to their service messages.

Um, what service messages? I hadn’t heard a single thing from them since I’d sent the watch off. No phone calls. No emails. No letters. I was a bit…upset about this.

So, I lovingly re-packed it, but this time, I sent along a $60 money order, along with the repair invoice, and a little note, informing them that I did wish them to fix it, and here was the $60 the had requested.

Two days and $25 in postage later, the watch was off to Torrance again. “This, time,” I thought, “I’ll get my beautiful watch back again, whole!”

Weeks passed. Spring Training came and went. The baseball season started. The Astros worked assiduously to become, once again, the worst team in baseball. I checked the mail regularly, in case Citizen sent me a note about the watch, but, sadly, received nothing. Once again, it was as if I’d sent my watch into a black hole.

Then, today, May 23rd, I received another text message from UPS, telling me my watch was back from its second sojourn to Torrance. I was hopeful, but apprehensive. In what state would my watch be now?

When I got home, there was the package from Citizen. I picked it up and went into the kitchen, where The Lovely Christine was making dinner.

“I love you,” I told her, pulling out my pocketknife in preparation for slitting the packing tape open. “I’m telling you this now, while I’m in a good mood.” I kissed her on the back of the neck, then continued, “Because if I open this package and my watch isn’t fixed, I’m going to be incandescently angry.”

Thirty seconds later, I was incandescently angry.

Once again, my watch was unfixed. Once again, there was a little note saying that I hadn’t responded to their inquiries, which, once again, I had never received. But, my $60 money order had been returned, so I’ve got that going for me.

So, now, instead of wanting to send it back for a third time, I’m wondering how easy it would be to take a hammer and pound a titanium watch perfectly flat.

I honestly don’t know what they want from me. Since they sent my $60 back, it clearly isn’t money. Perhaps I missed some fine print about sacrificing a small animal, or selling my soul to Satan.

I’m at a loss.

UPDATE – 24 May

I got a couple of calls and emails from Citizen today. They say they are sending me a pre-paid UPS packing label, and that they will fix my watch and send it back to me. Free of charge.

So, we’ll see how that works.

UPDATE – 5 Jun

My watch is back from Citizen. Shipped and fixed free of charge. I finally have my Eco-Drive back on my wrist again!

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25 Responses to Why won’t they fix it?

  • They sure as hell don’t deserve you as a customer and they don’t deserve to be in business.  I can’t believe how patient you’ve been. I’d be calling the CEO by now.

  • I hear that Timex makes a good watch.

  • Every 5-6 years my “atomic” Casio Waveceptor fails, and I get a new one for about $30. 

  • You need to make a phone call.

  • Also at those prices, they should not charge ANYTHING for repairs.
    The parts you need probably cost PENNIES.

  • Perhaps you need to begin a walk up the Citizen management food chain as was necessary when the new refrigerator died.  The dolts at the bottom of the food chain are only concerned about 5::00 pm and payday.  Management is more concerned about the bottom line and keeping customers happy.  All the information about Citizen Management likely is out on the internet.

    • The underlings are a direct reflection of the management. If management doesn’t give a crap, the proles won’t either. More likely, they’re trained to be obtuse, ambivalent, and arrogant.
      Yes, many companies operate in such a narcissistic world.

  • They could benefit from a drive up the coast to Cupertino.

  • Dale-  Forget Citizen and go buy a Victorinox.  Beautiful watches, I’ve never had any problems with them.

  • What Mr. Franks said.
    Call the Citizen US regional or national manager. (Or email if calling is difficult/impossible.)
    Tell him the story and very politely explain exactly how upset you are about this level of customer service on a watch of that price range.
    Watch the watch get actually fixed, possibly for free.
    (Perhaps point out that a $90 Casio has the same features (except titanium) and probably wouldn’t break like that… and in any  case would be replaced for the price of having the Citizen fixed, and would take two days, not months.)

  • “No one is allowed to fix the Skyhawk A-T except the Citizen Service Center in Torrance, CA”
    WTF? How is this possible? Is there some all-powerful worldwide watchmaker’s guild that makes their members all sign pledges not to fix these watches or do you mean that the company makes all their parts custom and won;t sell them to anybody? Their insistence on establishing such a protectionist repair market combined with their awful customer service should make you question if it is ever worth giving them your money again.

    • And apparently the service center also has a damned hard time fixing it too unless you participate in some form of telephone/email or snail mail tag.

  • However, fear not, and don’t give up on Citizen, no doubt this is some rogue low or mid level employees inventing these requirements.  I’m sure the President of Citizen will find out about this on the 5:00 PM news.

    • Hey…it works for one or the largest organizations in the world, why not Citizen.

  • search linkedin for  “Director After Sales Service at Citizen Watch” and send them an InMail.

  • I now use my iPhone as a pocket watch

  • If it doesn’t get fixed this time, I suspect I will be hearing about some unfortunate business in Torrance on the national news…

  • I had a series of job interview requests by a “head hunter” go lame over the period of over a year, so finally when I actually got an interview, to work for the guy who took the first job I was supposed to be interviewed for, I took it with the intention of finding out who this people were who had been jerking me around for more than a year.
    I first met with the director of HR … telling her my story and why I was there.  Next, on to the director for the job … telling him my story and why I was there. And so on till I circled back to the director of the job who asked me why I was there .. I repeated my story.  We parted.   A week of so later I got a polite rejection letter.

  • I have been in correspondence with Citizen for a watch which canniot be adjusted . I have not given the fight as yet . The watch as been twice & I am sendin fo a third time. Truly disgusting

  • Is the no repair thing a concern over voiding the warranty or really no one reoutable will repair it?

    • That looked ok when I typed it off my phone.  Should be:
      … really no one reputable will repair ….

      • Probably both; definitely warranty, and quite possibly Citizen won’t *sell the parts* to anyone else for repair purposes…